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“I came to Boulder, Colorado in 1985 to pursue a PH.D. in Political Science at the University of Colorado. I had played lacrosse through high school and college and ran to stay in shape and because I found it very soothing. I did not run to compete so it felt like an escape for me every time I went out for a run. This changed after a short time in Boulder as I was inspired by all of the amazing athletes who made Boulder their home. I decided I was going to try to qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon…never mind that my PR was 3:50 at that time which meant I needed to take a whopping full hour off my time. I started training and with the help of many people managed to run 2:49 at the 1987 Twin Cities Marathon qualifying me for the 1988 Olympic Trials. It was a dream come true. The thing is after that my identity became very tied to how fast I could run.
Quick jump forward 10 years; I am now married and expecting my first child. At 14 weeks pregnant, I was heading home from an evening event in Boulder when I passed out at the wheel and my car hit a tree. I sustained 10 broken ribs (6 in two places), a broken sacrum and pubic bone, 3 skull fractures resulting in brain injury, a punctured liver and a collapsed lung. The story of my recovery needs to wait for another post, but the happy ending is that the child in my belly just turned 20 years old and is an amazing light in my life.
I wanted to tell you this story because it describes how broken my body was at one point. I fully recovered and although my bones may be a bit crooked I have full functionality and NO pain. Most pain is a cause of collapse somewhere in the chain of tissue in our body. I have had various twinges over the years, but nothing has worked as well as Foundation Training to help me be pain-free. I don’t want to mislead you though. I do many things to maintain my body so that I can do what I love which is run in the mountains for hours at a time.  A short list includes: massage, cranial sacral work, deep water running, swimming, Pilates and yoga. All of it helps me to stay balanced, but the one I do every day is Foundation Training and it provides immediate relief if I have a twinge or ache.” ~Vicky Hunter
This month the goal is Decompression Breathing and don’t let the word breathing fool you. This is a full body exercise. The purpose is to maximize the length of your spine and to fight the constant effect gravity places on our bodies causing collapse that can lead to pain and injuries. Some side benefits include stronger abdominal muscles and toning of the vagus nerve which is responsible for many bodily functions including proper lung and heart function.
Starting position: stand tall with toes together and heels slightly apart; knees can bend just enough to touch activating the inner line of the legs (alternatively you can stand with the feet a few inches apart, but work to have engagement of the inner line of the legs without the knees collapsing inward). Press in to the three points of contact of the feet (big toe mound, pinky toe mound and the heel while keeping the arches slightly lifted; avoid falling to the inside or outside of the foot. Draw the chin in and the chest up. By pulling the chin back and lining the back of the neck up with the upper spine you activate the vagus nerve and take pressure off of the cervical spine). In order to prevent hyperextension of the spine, pull the hips back just slightly so that the spine is in a neutral position (tail is neither tucked nor extended too far back).
Place hands in the measuring stick position (pinkies to the hips, thumbs to bottom of the rib cage). With each inhale try to increase the space between the thumbs and pinkies; with each exhale maintain the space created on the inhale by pulling the belly in and up toward your spine. Each breath works to expand the space in the rib cage; each exhale maintains the space. The idea is to gain height and width across your torso with each breath.
Once you feel like you are maintaining traction from head to feet, you can add more load to this posture by scooping the hands forward in to a sphere of tension (pressing the fingertips together and pulling the palms apart like you are holding ball of energy); if shoulders allow bring the arms up toward the ceiling diagonal from your forehead and continue for three more full breaths. Try to make the inhales and exhales as even as possible. Sometimes counting in for 3-5 counts and then out for 3-5 counts can help.
Remember to stay tall, keep weight primarily in heels, and keep knees soft.
Practice this throughout your day whenever you feel the need to ‘decompress’!
For more information on Foundation Training and Vicky go to FoundationTraining.com